175 Water Street

Coenties Slip

Wall Street Triangle

Washington Square Park

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail

Brooklyn Navy Yard Cemetery

Hunterfly Road Houses


Washington Square Park

New York, NY


Washington Square Park photographs

Joan H. Geismar, Ph.D., LLC, has served as archaeological consultant on two phases of the current Washington Square Park Reconstruction. In 2004, she monitored the foundation and utility excavations associated with reconstruction of the Arch and prepared a report for review by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. As part of a Phase 1A documentation, she went on to develop an archaeological sensitivity model for the entire park.


The Phase IA research identified several areas of potential sensitivity, among them the extensive late 18th- and early 19th-century Potter’s Field once located within the eastern two-thirds of the park, a historical use known to many. Surprises included finding the location of the Potter’s Field Keeper’s house as well as the original plan for the Parade Ground that replaced the Potter’s Field after it closed in 1825. Research also revealed that an 18th-century domestic complex—a house and possible outbuildings—once stood in the park’s northwest quadrant, adjacent to the Potter’s Field. In 1819, Rose Butler, a young black woman found guilty of arson was hanged on a gallows erected in the Potter’s Field. These and other findings made it possible to identify potential areas of archaeological concern as well as to enrich the park’s history.


It is expected that the Phase 1A report will inform current and future work at one of New York City’s most historical and beloved parks.